Should you take Creatine – do the benefits outweigh the side effects?

The benefits of creatineOn most, if not all, supplement provider sites, Creatine will have its very own dedicated section. This is because Creatine as a supplement is popular; enormously popular. It is a well known and widely used product among body builders and athletes alike. The main reason for this is that Creatine promotes endurance, energy, and builds muscle mass.

All of this is scientifically proven, however there are still many people who are reluctant to step down this particular path for fear of the myths and rumours that surround it. So, here are the facts on Creatine as a body building supplement, the whys and wherefores, the ‘scoop’ if you will.

What is Creatine and what are the benefits?

Creatine is a combination of three different amino acids that supply energy to all cells within the body, particularly muscle cells.

It is found in high protein foods such as red meat and fish, and is produced entirely naturally. Your body uses Creatine as a fuel source during workouts, supplementing your natural Creatine supplies gives you enough of an energy boost to train harder, for longer.

But that’s not the only benefit of this supplement, creatine also:

  • Hydrates muscles cells, which promotes Protein Synthesis, and as we all know, Protein Synthesis is exactly what we want in order to grow muscle tissue.
  • Forces muscles to hold more water making them appear bigger.
  • Helps the body train longer and harder before fatigue sets in.
  • May help encourage protein synthesis.

Should I be taking it and is Creatine safe?

That all depends; if you are trying to lose weight, this particular supplement is probably not the way to go. If you are looking to bulk up and gain weight, then you probably should.

It’s impossible to say how much gain you will see from cycling Creatine into your normal routine, everybody is different and our bodies respond in different ways, but you will almost certainly see an improvement in performance during your training sessions.

What are the side effects of creatine supplementation?

This is the most misunderstood side of the Creatine debate. There have been plenty of talks over the years linking long term use to Kidney Damage, Liver Damage, stomach cramps and diarrhoea. But let’s look at the facts; there has been no actual clinical study that has ever proven the links to any of the above mentioned side effects.

quoteCreatine has been studied more than any other athletic or body building supplement and no research has ever been published stating that it is in any way unsafe.

Medical experts do advise anyone with Kidney problems to avoid taking Creatine due to anecdotal reports of its effects, but in people taking the correct dosage of the supplement to support training, no adverse reactions have ever been proven.

The key here is ‘the correct dosage’; as one medical expert stated, too much Creatine may cause  stomach cramps and diarrhoea, in exactly the same way as too much Vitamin C can cause stomach cramps and diarrhoea.

creatine-supplementsExtensive research has proven that supplementing Creatine by between 5 and 20 grams per day is perfectly safe, and as with anything else, it’s always recommended to cycle your supplements and give your body a break from them regularly. Typically this is 6-8 weeks on and 2 weeks off.

The only true and given side effect of Creatine use is the potential for muscle damage due to over exertion. For this very reason, Creatine is not recommended for anyone under the age of 18, since the body is still growing and damage to the muscles and ligaments is viable concern.